In a letter to the Department of
Veterans Affairs, 83 mostly Democratic lawmakers have called for the
VA to cover gender reassignment surgery.
In the letter, dated September 7, 83
House members called denial of the procedure for transgender people
“Simply put, the VA has an obligation
to provide the necessary care that is prescribed to enrolled veterans
by their health care practitioners,” the
letter states. “It is unconscionable to deny veterans the same
access to health care services that civilians receive in the private
sector, and that is available to Medicare beneficiaries and federal
workers, simply because of outdated and unscientific prejudice
against their gender identity.”
There are an estimated 160,000
transgender veterans in the United States.
“It is simply unacceptable that we
would ask our veterans to risk their lives to protect our rights but
we would refuse to defend theirs in return,” said California
Representative Julia Brownley, top Democrat on the House Veterans
Affairs Health Subcommittee. “The VA must put an end to this
discriminatory and outdated ban on treatments for gender dysphoria
and ensure that all our nation's veterans have access to the health
care they have earned.”
Outgoing Florida Representative Ileana
Ros-Lehtinen, who has a transgender son, is the only Republican to
join the effort.
Charlotte Clymer, a spokesperson for
the Human Rights Campaign (HRC), said in a statement that the
exclusion of gender reassignment surgery from VA coverage “undermines
the health and wellbeing of transgender patriots who have laid their
lives on the line for this country and their families.”
The VA's policy of not covering such
procedures is currently being challenged in federal court.